Yefunde [yeh-FOON-deh] takes her sister’s hand as the girls walk up the winding dirt path to the highway. The girls wait on the edge of the busy road for some older children. Then they join them, walking silently and single file toward their school more than a mile away. They can’t talk because it’s too noisy to hear one another over the roaring traffic that passes just inches from them.
Yefunde and her family live in central Benin. [Locate Benin on a map.] Her parents spend most of their day caring for their family’s garden plots, where they raise yams, peanuts, and other crops that provide most of their food. They’re glad that their children can attend school and work toward a better life in the future. But they worry about their safety as the children walk the dangerous road.
The children walk carefully along the edge of the pavement on one of the busiest highways in the country. Cars and motorbikes swerve and honk as they pass slower moving vehicles. Large trucks, bulging with loads of cotton tied down with tarps, zoom past the children, tossing dust at them and threatening to blow them off the road. The children turn their heads so the dust doesn’t fly into their eyes, and watch their step so they don’t fall off the narrow shoulder into the deep ditch that runs along the road.
Bravely they march on, breaking into a run as they turn off the road and approach the safety of their school. They shake off the dust and the stress before classes begin. In the distance a siren pierces the air, and the children shudder. Sirens often mean an accident on the narrow highway.
A bell calls the children to class, where they jostle for a seat in the crowded classroom. The government school is the only school for miles.
In the afternoon the children file out of school and walk down the same highway, dodging cars, motorbikes, and trucks as they make their way to their toward home. As Yefunde and her sister reach their path, they wave goodbye to their schoolmates and run toward their little tin-roofed house. They change their school uniforms for work clothes, and hurry toward the field where their mother is working. Mother hands Yefunde her baby brother to play with. Without the baby on her back, Mother can finish hoeing the yam patch before supper.
Father comes in from the field and washes his hands and face. He looks tired, but a smile creases his sun-wrinkled face. “When I heard the siren this morning,” he says, his face growing serious. “I was worried about you.”
“We’re OK, Father,” Yefunde says. “We are careful.”
As the family eats dinner, Father announces that the chief has decided that the Adventist Christians would be invited to build the new village school on his land.
“That’s wonderful,” Mother says. “Soon our children won’t have to walk along the highway to get to school."
“It will be a big school,” Father says with quiet excitement. “With electricity, so we can hold meetings there at night.”
Soon excitement tingles through the community as men mark off the building site and dig long trenches in the ground for the foundation stones. As work progresses on the school, more and more people talk about the Christians among them whose church is building the new school.
“They are good people,” one man says. “When my son was sick, their members prayed for him.” Another tells what he knows. Few of the villagers are Christians, but they respect the members who worship in the little Adventist church set back from the road not far away. The villagers are glad that Adventist Christians have chosen their village to build the first Adventist school in all of Benin.
Our Thirteenth Sabbath Offering will help build the Adventist school that Yefunde and many other children will attend. Let’s save our money so that these children can have a safe school, a school where they can learn how much God loves them.